advice

The Best Places to Get Ready in St Louis

Okay so you have your ceremony and reception venues picked. Check. You might even have your photographer and videographer. Check. Now you can take a minute to breathe and relax for a few days. Go ahead, you deserve it! But don't get too settled in. There's a number of things left to do, one of which is decide where the guys and girls are going to get ready in the morning. You have a lot of options to consider. Should we get ready at our home or get a hotel? What about the basement of the church or a boardroom at our venue? Should it be close to the church or reception? There are 4 focus points you should look for in your morning prep location: enough space for those getting ready and your vendors, convenience of location, how well the space is naturally lit, and whether or not you will feel comfortable in that space.  

Hotel Ignacio

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This super awesome boutique hotel located near SLU and the Fox has this retro art deco vibe that's hard not to love. Their suite is perfect for mid-sized wedding parties 3-6 bridesmaids/groomsmen. It's location is convenient for any wedding between the river and Forest Park, especially the nearby venues including Plush, Xavier, Fox, and Coronado. We love that since it's a smaller hotel, the bridesmaids and groomsmen can all be close to each other.

Hilton St Louis at the Ballpark

We've filmed a number of weddings at the Hilton Ballpark and they always turn out incredible. Great location for downtown weddings. Their rooms are super bright in the morning, particularly if you have an archview room. The suite can handle large wedding parties comfortably and all the rooms are surprisingly affordable. With a significant walk between the two towers, aim to have all rooms booked in the same one.

Four Seasons

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If you're familiar with St Louis you were probably expecting this one. It's the definition of luxury. While the suites are perfect for large groups, if you have a smaller or mid-sized wedding party their standard and corner rooms are perfectly fine. After the suit and dress is on, many photographers will knock out some of the wedding party photos near their ultra-modern lobby staircase or out on the rooftop balcony. Both offer views of St Louis that no other space can provide.

Airbnb 

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Even if things are running on schedule the morning of the wedding, nerves tend to run higher than normal. It's important that the space you're in makes you feel relaxed and at home. With the Airbnb option reach out to your booked creatives for a second opinion since lighting and comfort can vary greatly from one home to another. I would advise you to look up a couple different homes/apartments and send them to your photographer or videographer. In the St Louis area, our best luck with great Airbnb spots have been in the Soulard/Tower Grove area.

Doubletree Hilton - Collinsville

This one is mainly for my Illinois couples. People are always surprised that we bring this one up. hidden just off 55/70 near the convention center, it's competitively priced and the furnishings and lighting are on par with many of the higher end hotels downtown. Be sure to check out their largest suite. Parking and interstate access is a breeze. If your wedding is in Fairview or Edwardsville, this is the spot we would recommend.

The Westin St Louis

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The Westin is another one of our favorite downtown options. The suite is spacious and bright, the standard rooms are great as well, and access to downtown venues is easy. The biggest reason I bring this spot up though is the service. As a vendor working at weddings, hotels have sometimes treated us with hesitation. Not here. The front desk was incredibly helpful and everyone had a smile. So simple but it goes such a long way!

Union Station

We love Union Station for countless reasons. When you step into the lobby, it feels like you've turned back time. It has this surreal vide inside and out. Union Station has two sides to the hotel. The side we want you to look at faces Market St. The rooms here are much brighter and warmer with all this really cool vintage railroad art. I also love that the layout of the rooms isn't your standard rectangle box. The cut-up design gives your photographer and videographer more to play with during your morning prep.

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captured in frames - St. Louis Wedding Videography

New Trails

We meet again! First, if you haven't caught on yet, let me start by saying how much we adore outdoor weddings. Second, we also love a good winery. Put them together and you have a match made in heaven!

We were stoked to find out that Caitlin and Jason were hosting their big day at Villa Marie in Maryville, Illinois. Villa Marie is one of our favorite wineries in the area and it's the perfect location for an outdoor ceremony.

Jason started the day with golfing a few miles down the road, while Caitlin did a little bridal prep in the hotel. After they were both dressed and ready, they had their first look in the vineyards. Not only is a winery perfect for an outdoor ceremony, but the vineyards make for an excellent first look!

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a first look, let me explain. A first look is when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. This gives the couple an opportunity to calm their nerves before they say "I do", in addition to having a little extra time to spend together on their otherwise hectic day. We often encourage our couples to have a first look, especially when they think they might be anxious the day of the wedding. The saying everything else falls away when you see each other is often true, but it's nice to have that moment privately. It's hard to share your thoughts and feelings throughout the rush of the day, so recently couples have started scheduling time to do just that.

If you're considering a first look, watch Caitlin and Jason's same day edit below for inspiration.

[embed]https://vimeo.com/132026342[/embed]

Enjoy!

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captured in frames - St. Louis Wedding Videography

Check Off The List

With fall fast approaching, Jimmy and I are well into our 5th season of weddings. We've seen such a wide range of settings, styles, and personalities... each as memorable as the last. Wedding planning may seem like a daunting task but it doesn't have to be stressful! Here are 10 bits of advice that we've learned on our journey as wedding videographers. 10 Tips

1) Bigger isn't always better! Everybody loves a good party but you have to ask yourself what you value more: intimate or Gatsby style. There's two sides to every option. At larger weddings there's a feel-good feeling of 300 friends and family all gathered in celebration. Downside? I can't tell you how many times we've seen the bride and groom spend all night at the reception feeling obligated to make sure they visit every table, saying hi to their guests. At smaller weddings things are more laid-back. Timelines don't matter as much and there's a greater sense of community. On the other hand you'll struggle much more with the final guest list and it's much less of a "party." Both are great ideas each with their own mood and personality. Ultimately you just have to ask yourself which you would enjoy more!

2) Don't forget about transportation. Having your wedding and reception take place at the same venue will virtually eliminate the need for expensive limos plus it will greatly cut down on the stress day of. The last thing you want the day of your wedding is to be watching the clock making sure you're in the right place at the right time. Hair makeup and dress at the hotel, across town to the church at 1pm, pictures in the park at 3pm, back to the city for the reception at 5pm. It's enough to make anyone go crazy! Time in the car is time lost for pictures, video, and relaxing with family and friends. Think about finding a venue where you can do all the wedding details without ever changing the address.

Molly and Andy's ceremony and reception were both held at her parents house, and if you've ever seen their wedding film, it was GORGEOUS!

3) Budgeting. There's a lot to buy and a limited amount of money to spend. Again, ask yourself what you value more. Would you scrap the cake if it means you can have your favorite DJ? Your outdoor ceremony location is already beautiful, why do you need extra flowers? Occam's razor, the simplest solution is usually the best (Jimmy's favorite saying!! :)). And that leads us to...

4) Don't worry about traditions. Make your wedding unique to YOU! Trends are cool but thinking outside the box can save you time and money. Are you really that worried about seeing each other before the wedding? What about trading the flowers for a photobooth? When you're starting your wedding planning consider throwing all the norms of weddings out the window and start from square one. What do you want to feel that day. What would you do that leaves you waking up feeling fulfilled and EXCITED the morning after your wedding.

5) Consider a first meeting before the wedding. Most photographers and videographers will suggest this idea and there's a strong reason behind it! From a logistics standpoint, you'll save time doing your portraits before the ceremony. On a sentimental note, seeing each other before the aisle will make that first moment more intimate and memorable for you. It's just the two of you together to take as much time as you want to soak in the happiness. At the alter, the processional song will end and the ceremony will proceed along as planned. Also (and this is for my brides out there!), you'll have a moment to touch up your makeup before the ceremony, just in case you shed a few happy tears when you first see each other :)!!

6) Creative venue locations. The first thing most people do when planning their wedding is hit up Google for the best local venues. We all know someone with a beautiful lake lot or spacious backyard. If outdoor is your thing, consider talking to them about using their house for your venue. You'll save a ton on site fees and you can forget about all the red tape that some venues bring. Find a house or location with lots of big windows for tons of natural light. Your photographer and videographer will love your for it!

Love the up-lighting on the trees!

7) Think about hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator. You can go all out and hire a professional, or if the budget is tight, assign an aunt to know all the details of the wedding plans. You don't want to be bombarded with questions the day of your wedding. Wedding planners can be invaluable in helping you work out the kinks of the day, like locating a wandering uncle for family photos, keeping everything on schedule, picking up lunch, having an army of bobby pins... the list goes on!

8) Consider alternative food. Creative food ideas can give a special flair to your reception. We've seen doughnut bars, food trucks, ice cream bars, wood-fired pizza, and more! Creative food can help make your wedding unique to you while giving the guests something new and exciting.

Delicious doughnut bar!

9) Implement your hobbies. What do the two of you do together? What makes you unique as a couple? Take those ideas and add them into your wedding! For example, if you're a major sports fan, use your favorite teams as table names. If you both love cooking together, implement that into your decor or even BETTER, go back into the kitchen and help out for a few minutes! Talk about an awesome photo and video op! Love wine? Scrap the flower centerpiece and put a bottle of wine on each table. After all, this is YOUR big day!

10) Be true to yourself!!! The day after you get engaged you're bombarded with questions: what's your date, where's the wedding, have you picked a dress?! Then as you start nailing down the details, Aunt Sally will ultimately let you know what she thinks about the flowers and there's a chance she won't like them. But from day one you have to remember that this is YOUR wedding! I can't stress that enough! FACT, whether you have 300 guests or 30, you'll never make everyone 100% happy. Even those closest to you will disagree with something about your wedding plans. Remember to make your wedding the wedding of your dreams and brush aside everything else.

11) Yes, I said there would only be 10, but I couldn't resist adding this since I've heard it sooooo many times. Number 11? RELAX and enjoy the ride! Wedding planning is fun and exciting! In the end, you get to marry the man or woman of your dreams and that is the best part of all.

Much love,

stephsignature

captured in frames - St. Louis Wedding Videography